Swaying precariously on the seabed, I kept my mind off what was coming up by watching swarms of fish dart in and out of the coral.

Instructor Nikki looked calm and collected as she made her way along our line, where we were trying to keep our balance and not float away or crash face first on to the sand. She gave my buddy the okay sign, shook his hand and turned to face me.

The swoosh of bubbles swept past my ears. I took a few deep breaths and slowly pulled the mask from my face, grimacing as the sea trickled in, past my nose, past my eyes[2026] I shook my head, shot to the surface and spluttered. Definitely not a natural diver then!

We were on an intense five-day course in the the Red Sea, based at a dive centre in the resort of Taba Heights in Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

We kitted up each morning in the sun, setting up the tanks with the help of our buddies. Soon we were wading into the sea like spacemen, tanks on backs, wetsuits firmly zipped up and fins in hand. We gathered together in groups of four with an instructor and slowly let out the air in our BCD, the jacket that lets you go up and down.

Our heads were only just below the surface but the sensation of breathing under water was incredibly strange.

The PADI Open Water course is carefully designed to take wannabe divers through the basics of scuba diving, with the aim of being able to dive without an instructor to a depth of 18m.

It involves quite a bit of time in the classroom. There are tests and then a final exam, as well as a series of practical skills to perform under water.

It sounds rigorous - and it is - but the feeling of accomplishment at the end overrides any annoyance about missing out on topping up your tan. Of course, The Red Sea is a beautiful place to start diving, with more than 1,100 species of fish and about 1,000 miles of coral reef to explore.

There are plenty of dive centres along the Egyptian coast, but Taba Heights has a five-star centre that caters for all ages, in a secluded location.

The white sandy beaches are dotted with tasteful sun loungers and, unlike Sharm El Sheikh, the area is unspoiled by high-rise buildings and noise.

Visitors to the carefully created resort could easily take a day tour or two to nearby Mount Sinai or St Catherine's Monastery, but most tend not to. The hotels are so opulent and the staff so eager to please that a dive trip is enough of an adventure for one holiday.

Of course, one sport isn't enough for everyone and the boys in our group took off for some golf. The 18-hole course looks a little like it could in a flashy computer game - all breathtaking red mountain ranges, stunning flat greens and wide blue ocean.

Quad biking is also on offer for adventurous sorts. The local Canyon Motors centre takes you motoring up the canyon into the stunning mountains behind the resort.

It was great fun and allowed us to see the incredible scenery up close.

This isn't the real Egypt and doesn't pretend to be; for that you need to go to Cairo or Alexandria. But if you want a relaxing, sumptuous break that virtually guarantees good weather, then Taba Heights is definitely worth a visit. It probably won't be your last.